Living Despite the Skin Flare Ups

I’ve dealt with some form of skin condition my whole life. Whether it be one of the several different types of eczema or TSW (topical steroid withdrawal) much later in life, something has always been going on with my skin. Whether that means I have redness, more flaking, itching, pain, etc. – something has always been cycling on and off for over 30 years now.

What does healing mean to me?

There are many things I’ve learned throughout this journey, and many things my perspective has changed in regards to. One of those is “healing.” I think many people, especially in the TSW condition, consider “healing” to be synonymous with the word “cure.” The truth is – they are completely different. Once upon a time, I may have argued this, as I had my sights on being “completely healed,” until I realized every single one of us has a different definition of this. For me personally, the definition has changed and evolved throughout my journey, as well. When I started TSW about nine years ago, I figured there was an “end” to it, some sort of destination to reach. The further along I’ve gotten on the journey though, the more I realize it is exactly that – a journey. Just like life itself, eczema, TSW, and “healing” in general is a journey. There is no “end goal” or “destination,” because it is about the journey itself.

How did eczema impact my life previously?

These days, “healing” to me looks more like learning to accept myself and show myself compassion and self love even when my skin is more red, itchy, painful, etc. It also looks like continuing to live despite it all.

In the past, I used to stop my entire life because of my skin. I would wait until my skin got better to try this, or to do that. And the truth is, I would have likely spent my life waiting for the “perfect moment,” never realizing it was right in front of me the whole time.

How have I been choosing to live my life?

This part of my journey has become very evident this year as I just went on vacation again recently, only for the second time since TSW started nine years ago. And my skin was definitely in some kind of “flare up” the whole time. But instead of hiding away inside and not allowing myself to be seen at all, I put on my bathing suit, grabbed sunscreen and a hat, and still went out and enjoyed the beach as much as I possibly could. Yes, I got burnt. Yes, my skin flared up more after. And yes, I’m still kind of uncomfortable. But was it worth it? Absolutely.

What have I been learning in my life with eczema?

A huge part of my healing journey has been exactly this – learning to live alongside my skin. My life may not look like other people’s, and I may have to adjust more in my day to day than the average person, but I’m learning that’s okay too. I may even “fail” more than the average person, but I’m also learning that’s okay, slowly but surely.

As the saying goes: “I have not failed, I’ve just found a thousand ways that don’t work.” I’m slowly learning that it’s okay to “fail,” it’s okay to have to adjust and change my schedule and life based on my skin, but it’s also okay to LIVE MY LIFE as much as I possibly can, despite it all.

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